Cleaning woman gets jail time after robbing several Metro Detroit homes of more than $500K

Wedding rings, diamonds, watches, cash among stolen items

Families trusted her to clean their homes, and then valuable items started disappearing, which is why the former housekeeper is going to jail.

The families who hired Beata Tarnawska said they felt a bond with her, but that bond they’d built over several years was betrayed.

On Monday (March 13), some of those families showed up in court to ensure that the judge understood what was taken from them.

The actions by Tarnawska have impacted families from Sylvan Lake, Birmingham, West Bloomfield, and Grosse Pointe.

The deeply emotional issue is they trusted her, and she robbed them blind.

“We are asking you to sentence her to the maximum possible sentence under law,” said Debbie Stein.

Family after family stepped up to the podium during the trial.

“My grandma left a pair of earrings for my daughter to wear on her wedding day,” said another woman. “She was 105.”

Tarnawaska was convicted of robbing the families of their precious family heirlooms to the tune of more than $500,000.

“All of his grandmothers and great grandmother and heirlooms that we had for generations, my kids will never get,” said the woman.

Wedding rings, diamonds, watches, and cash are gone forever.

“She felt entitled to our belongings, and we later learned that she was selling them to pawn shops, eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook,” Stein said.

Stein was one of those victims of the housekeeper, and she says Tarnawaska also cracked safes when she was supposed to be cleaning.

“Or she would just break in,” Stein said.

Shawn Ley: “She would break in a safe?”

Stein: “She would break in a safe. She was very skilled, and she knew what she was doing, and she was determined.”

Tarnawaska was living large as she was paying for expensive dinners, shopping trips, and seeing Celine Dion in Las Vegas.

“I told her, ‘Shame on you,’” Stein said. “The shame you brought to your children that they have to live with this.”

Tarnawaska received 11 months in jail, three years probation, and a behavioral program to change her behavior. She also has to make restitution somehow.

The restitution hearing is scheduled for May, and she has to have no contact with the families.

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.